“Books and books and books—some five hundred volumes in all. Books of the sea and books of the land, some of them streaked with salt, collected with love and care over more than twenty-five years.
Melville, Conrad, London, Stevenson; Gauguin and Loti and Rupert Brooke; Lubbock, Masefield, De Hartog—Slocum and Rockwell Kent; Trelawny and Cook and Bligh; Chapelle and Underhill—Nansen, Frobisher, Villiers and Scott and Louis Becke. Homer, Gerbault, and Tompkins. Hundreds more: all cast in a common mold—blessed with the genius that makes men feel, and dream, and go.
And a special section of books that deal with the greatest frontier of all—the relationship between men: Marx and Whitman, Thoreau and Henry George, Victor Hugo, Thomas Paine and Jefferson. Lincoln and Emerson, Rousseau, Voltaire and Upton Sinclair, Shaw. Byron, Mark Twain, Roosevelt, Garrison, Jack London again and Shakespeare.” — Sterling Hayden, Wanderer
Well, there’s a traveler’s reading list for you. Hayden misses some he ought to have included, Beryl Markham comes to mind, but on the whole he’d built a library of transformation. And so must we. What carries your imagination to new places? What moves you?
Hayden might have loved Mary Oliver poems. The Summer Day, in which she famously prods us to ask ourselves: “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” was published just four years after Hayden passed away, so it’s not one he would have read. But they surely spoke the same language. The feelers, dreams and goers instinctively know when they encounter a kindred spirit.
And what of us, friend? What are our libraries whispering? Our challenge is to do more than feel and dream. Our challenge is to go. Books stir the imagination and offer a map. It’s up to us to learn what our compass is telling us and chart a course. It’s up to us to weigh anchor and act on our dreams.